Film Review: Maïwenn’s My King Is A Lesson On Why Women Stay In Abusive Relationships

We have all asked ourselves, “Why is she with him?”. It could be towards a parent, friend, or a person’s gossip that floats around to become your own live-action soap opera, but we have all known a woman whom is with a “bad man”. Whether verbally or physically abusive, the point is that his psychological hold of her mind and manipulation of her heart makes you wonder, “How could she be so spineless?”. Maïwenn’s My King is a humbling, introspective film on how many years can be lost in the highs and lows of doomed love.

Maïwenn has directed a film, Mon Roi (In French), that is a must see for all those that have asked the questions above. It stars french actress Emanuelle Bercot in a riveting performance that could rival Meryl Streep. She is completely fractured with inner turmoil as Tony: a woman stuck in a physical rehabilitation center trying to heal her knee injury. Yet, as she heals her body, she cannot help but recount the torrid ten years she has spent with her now ex-husband, Giorgio (played charismatically by Vincent Cassel). While trying to walk again, she spiritually questions, “Why did she stay?”. He lied, cheated, verbally and physically abused her, and made her, one of the most prominent lawyers in France, feel like, a dumb dog eager for her owner’s love. As you see her relive their “love” story, you understand and have empathy for why she fell for this man that can speak a dream but be a nightmare.

My King Trailer
Vincent Cassel as Giorgio is one of the most endearing characters I have ever seen on screen. He is unbelievably likeable, which makes you detest his cruelty even more. How can someone so witty, smart, and the light of every room he enters, be so cruel? As the film progresses, you grow to sympathize and feel like Tony. When Giorgio is great and kind, you feel like a rocket headed straight for the stars. He breaths life into conversations and people, which also gives him the ability to destroy them. He has a quiet, simmering viciousness that is spiritually lethal in surprise and attack. One minute, he is laughing with you and, the next, he is trying to grab your neck and tell you that you are everything that is wrong in the relationship. His ability to go from 0 to 100 in milliseconds is alarming, and leaves everyone wondering his rationale. It takes Tony years to see there is no trigger to Giorgio. He is simply a charming malice. 

I was very humbled by this film because I often ponder why women stay in bad relationships. It is very tempting to judge, especially if they have been in that relationship for as long or longer then Tony. Yet, time flies so quickly that self-reflection, a moment strength and self-awareness, can as quickly leave with the breeze. Although Tony has moments throughout her 10 year affair with Giorgio where she questions her choices, it is not until she is physically strapped to a bed that she must face that her inner demons were attracted to his devilish behavior. Although, Tony does not deserve his cruelty, she is magnetized by the emotional rollercoaster he has placed her on. Again, Emanuelle Bercot has achieved a thoughtful analysis on why women stay through her portrayal of Tony’s insecurities and mental vulnerabilities. It is no wonder she won Best Actress in Cannes Film Festival.

Maïwenn’s My King (Mon Roi) comes out August 12 to theaters, and I cannot recommend it enough. It will leave you breathless with its performances, and your own lessons on how intoxicating a darkened love can be.